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T Chan-Ling; Sensitivity and neural organization of the cat cornea.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1989;30(6):1075-1082.
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The innervation of the adult cat cornea was investigated both psychophysically and histologically. Mean corneal touch threshold (CTT) for 25 adult domestic cats was 43 +/- 9 mg in the center of the cornea and 100 +/- 32 and 94 +/- 33 mg in the superior and inferior cornea, respectively. Gold chloride impregnation showed that the cat cornea is innervated by 16-20 radial nerve trunks that enter the mid-posterior stroma at various sites around the corneal circumference. As these trunks travel anteriorly toward the center of the cornea they give off collaterals that form the anterior stromal and subepithelial plexus. Fibers from the subepithelial plexus penetrate the epithelial basement membrane and give off numerous long fibers that ramify in the basal epithelial layer. Intraepithelial terminals arise from these, penetrating between the epithelial cells, ending with a terminal enlargement at the wing cell level. A distinct pattern of neural organization was found in the periphery of the cat cornea. This consisted of finer nerve fibers that entered the cornea at the subepithelial and basal epithelial levels at numerous sites around the corneal circumference. These fibers branched after a short distance in the cornea and appeared to innervate the anterior stroma and epithelium in the periphery of the cornea. This study thus provides direct evidence of two types of neural organization in the cornea of the domestic cat. Stromal nerves appear to be the main source of innervation to the epithelium in the center of the cornea while conjunctival nerves supply the peripheral epithelium.
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